DEVELOPING VILLAGES THE WAY TO GO, SOLOMONS TELLS MAJURO MEETING

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 7, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands government believes that villages must be developed as viable units of production, a conference in Majuro heard.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace Allan Kemakeza made the statement at the Inter-Oceania Conference for a Culture of Peace, held in the Marshall Islands capital.

Mr. Kemakeza told the conference that development of villages would alleviate the high mobility of people from the rural to urban areas.

He raised the point in view of the ethnic crisis on Guadalcanal.

Mr. Kemakeza noted that one of the reasons behind the tension was the influx of people from other provinces to Guadalcanal.

He said the Solomon Islands must develop mechanisms to provide better conditions at the village level.

This would include better marketing networks, transportation facilities and banking.

Mr. Kemakeza also added that incentives such as concessionary loans, subsidy schemes and access to technical advice must be available at the village level.

He told the conference better schools, medical services and other social services must also be provided in the rural areas as well as better infrastructure development, including electricity, roads and wharves.

In other Solomon Islands news:

* Development, land, human rights, health, the Townsville Peace Agreement and peace and reconciliation will be discussed at a major conference this week in Malu’u, North Malaita.

The meeting, known as the "expanded Northern Region Chiefs’ Conference," is sponsored by the Church of Melanesia’s Northern Region.

Bishop of Malaita Terry Brown reported that the conference will bring together 180 persons from North Malaita, including chiefs, church leaders and former militants from both the Anglican diocese and other churches.

He said resource persons will address the various issues on the conference agenda.

The conference ends Sunday, December 10.

* In Honiara, Parliament passed the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Amendment Bill.

Moved by the Minister for Forestry, Environment and Conservation, Tommy Chan, the Bill seeks changes to the act to give provincial government executives powers to hear requests for timber rights instead of area councils.

Mr. Chan said the amendment is necessary following the suspension of area councils.

The amendment will also simplify the procedures for potential investors in the forestry sector to quickly acquire timber rights within specified areas.

Meanwhile, opposition MPs have raised areas of concern. These pertain to the customary rights of tribal lands and the need for provincial executives to be thoroughly versed about people’s land rights and customary practices to avoid disputes and divisions within communities.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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